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NEW BLOOD

By Luke Boger

To say that the arrival of Darla (Julie Benz) has shaken things up a bit on Angel would be an understatement.

After most of his loose ends with Buffy were tied up last season, it appeared that Angel's woman problems were over. That was, until evil L.A. law firm Wolfram & Hart brought Angel's vampire "sire," Darla, back from hell to mess with Angel's mind. Is it even possible to be any more sinister than that? Needless to say, the plan worked. Angel has been Darla-distracted all season, causing his cohorts to worry that he's teetering on the edge of darkness.

At first, Darla's return provided prime opportunity for the series to flesh out Angel's elusive past. Via flashbacks, we saw some of the pivotal events that shaped him into the tormented, soulful vampire he is today. Darla also brought with her more menacing possibilities — namely the notion that she possessed the power to make Angel evil again.

It was intriguing at first, but the premise started to lose its bite after a few weeks. As a human with a vampire's memory, Darla was given a few fine moments — grappling with the fact she had a reflection again (and hating it) comes to mind. Despite nice character touches like that one, the problem was that Darla was becoming a pawn of the series as much as she was a pawn of Wolfram & Hart. With no other purpose than to get Angel all hot and bothered, she was beginning to become a bore.

So it was almost a relief to learn a few weeks ago that Darla was dying. Perhaps the writers finally realized that the Darla story arc was a dead end? 'Fraid not. Those tricksters behind Angel had something else up their sleeve. Just when it seemed Darla would finally fade away, that crazy vamp Drusilla (played to loopy perfection by Juliet Landau) shows up to turn her back to the dark side.

Up to this point, Darla was portrayed as little more than a pitifully manipulative ex-prom queen, so I wasn't prepared for how much more enticing she would be as a soulless bloodsucker. Despite the subconscious implications of what that might say about my taste in women, the return of Darla and Drusilla and the surprises they bring with them in tonight's episode open up a world of possibilities for Angel. You may feel guilty about it in the morning, but these bad girls create such a deliciously evil presence that you'll want to root for them as much as the good guy.

Darla and Dru are loose on the streets, ready to take a bite out of anyone with a jugular. Anything could happen and it just might.


The Usual
The Usual

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